My third novel, Seven Wings to Glory, gets top billing in Thorndike Press’s March 2018 catalog. Thorndike Press is the leading large print publisher in the United States. The book releases in hardcover large print March 21, one month shy of the anniversary of the original publication in 2017 from Camel Press.
I wrote this novel under contract on a tight deadline. I’m thrilled that Thorndike bought the rights for the new edition, and I’m equally thrilled to see the blurb from Southern Writers Magazine.
Thorndike Press will release the prequel, Johnnie Come Lately, in hardcover large print on February 21, 2018. I posted about it here. Both hardcover copies are available at most online booksellers, including Amazon, B&N, BAM, & Indie Bound. Libraries can order directly from Thorndike Press.
Meanwhile, back at the writing desk, I’m working on my fourth novel which deals in part about the family of a military pilot missing in action since 1972.
What’s the best way to review a book written for children? With the help of children, of course. And when the subject matter leans toward the somber and serious, in this case prisoners of war and service members missing in action, I enlisted the help of two children who live in my subdivision, a civilian community far away from bombs and bullets.
William is an athletic seventh grader who tells me he enjoys reading books he can check out from the library. His third grade sister, Kaili, loves to play dress up and wasn’t shy about speaking up as we discussed many of the tough themes in author Nancy Polette’s latest book for middle-grade readers, N is for Never Forget: POW-MIA A to Z (Elva Resa Publishing, 2017) and illustrated by Paul Dillon, the son of a WWII POW.
A few years ago, this brother and sister duo, along with another neighbor boy, showed up on my doorstep with homemade cookies and handwritten signs for my youngest son before he deployed to Afghanistan. To my knowledge, this is the closest these kids have come to personally knowing a soldier going off to war.
So, with William seated to my left at my dining room table and Kaili to my right, we began to discuss the stark and haunting images on the book’s cover. William pointed out the guard tower and informed his sister that there was probably a soldier up in the tower with a gun pointed down at the men huddled in coats. Kaili mentioned the snow and how cold the men looked. Then she mimicked an invisible guard up in the tower and said gruffly, “I’m warning you, don’t try to leave.” Throughout the reading of the book, she put herself into the story, imagining what it would be like to be taken prisoner, to be held against her will, and wondering if her family back home would know her whereabouts and if anyone was trying to save her. That’s what a good book does: it invites the reader to participate.
As we turned to the first page, I started to explain how the book is organized using a word starting with each letter of the alphabet. Kaili chimed in and said, “Yeah, it’s sort of like another book that might say, ‘P is for Princess or M is for Monster.’” And so we began with Artists and how “artwork reflects the hardships of prison life.” In a few brief paragraphs, the author explains how a British soldier held captive by the Japanese in 1942, fashioned a paintbrush out of human hair and used berry juice to depict the harsh treatment he and other prisoners experienced during the war. Although the guards confiscated many of the secret sketches, some of the sketches survived and show the hardship and sometimes death that prisoners endured at the hands of the enemy.
Later in the book, the images of barefoot children in threadbare clothing with downcast faces, and imprisoned behind barbed wire, prompted a lively discussion about Internment Camps and concentration camps during WWII. After William read a few lines out loud from that section, we talked about what it would be like if tanks and military trucks started rolling up and down our street and yanking people from their homes. Since my intent wasn’t to scare the children, I reassured them that hopefully our present and future leaders learn from the mistakes of the past. I appreciated that the author and the illustrator didn’t candy-coat this dark aspect of our world’s history, and the presentation of the material was age appropriate and tasteful.
One illustration shows a prisoner’s hands all cut up and bruised as he sews a crud American Flag out of scraps of material. This led to a discussion about why a prisoner might put his or her life at risk to create symbols from home. Another section talked about how Americans held in captivity during the Vietnam War created “Tap Codes” that help them communicate with other prisoners throughout camp when communication was forbidden. We role-played this part. I held up a notebook to represent a wall dividing two cells in a prison camp. William pretended to be in one cell and Kaili in the other. They couldn’t see each other or speak, not even a whisper. Then they each took turns tapping on the table, and we all three marveled at how prisoners in real life came up with secret codes to communicate. We studied the “tap chart” in the book showing letters of the alphabet and how they corresponded with the number of taps that spelled out words.
In the section, Missing In Action, a special team of investigators searches through a roped off area on a hillside deep in the jungle at what appears to be the sight of a military jet crash. The hillside is bare in places and we imagined what might have happened to the pilot and crew when the plane crashed decades ago and was never found until now. Between the illustration and the author’s explanation, we learn that every effort is made to recover and identify the remains of those missing from battles dating back decades.
At some point in our discussion, I had Kaili run into my home office and bring back a small black and white POW-MIA flag I keep on my desk. We talked about the symbolism of the flag. Then we remembered that a neighbor down the street flies a POW-MIA flag everyday, along with the American flag, on a tall flagpole in his front yard. My hope is that these children will glance up every now and then when they’re riding their bikes past the house and think about the meaning behind the black and white cloth with the silhouette of a man, a watchtower, and barbed wire, flapping in the wind.
When we turned to the section about Sacrifice, I hesitated. A part of me wanted to shield these kids from the truth. In the first illustration, a uniformed honor guard stands next to the casket of a fallen service member while members of the guard fold an American flag to present to the family. On the next page, we see the family seated near the gravesite; several generations are represented. A handsome Marine kneels before a woman as she receives the flag. A young boy clings to her side while a little girl a few feet away looks on.
As the kids and I took turns reading the short passage that accompanies this section, I realized at once why this book is so important. Military kids of all ages understand the sacrifice for the most part. Many of them have lived through the trauma of sending a parent to war, and all too many have experienced the grief that comes with sacrifice, be it death or a disability. But how many civilian kids have been sheltered from the harsh reality of war? How many civilian parents talk to their young children about those who serve in the Armed Forces?
N is for Never Forget: POW-MIA A-Z should be in every elementary and middle school library in this country. One of the goals of the book is to tell the military story to the civilian sector of our society. The book is ideal for a classroom discussion or for families who are looking for meaningful ways to honor veterans in their communities. This book can serve as a guide to help parents and educators teach children about service and sacrifice.
Librarians might consider ordering this book for their school or city libraries. Suitable for ages eight and up, patrons of all ages and backgrounds can benefit from the information presented in straightforward easy to read language. A discussion guide and a glossary explaining a few military terms are included at the back of the book.
As my young neighbors left to go home, I watched them through the eyes of a military wife and mother who’s sent loved ones into harm’s way. My hope is that more Americans can teach their children about the true cost of freedom. Reading this book is a good place to start.
Nancy Polette has written more than 170 books! She spent five years researching the life of Virginia Hall for her middle grade biography, The Spy with the Wooden Leg: The Story of Virginia Hall and worked alongside the president of the Jefferson Barracks POW-MIA Museum president to create N is for Never Forget: POW-MIA A to Z.
Paul Dillon is an accomplished illustrator and cartoonist whose work has appeared in more than thirty children’s books. He digitally painted the illustrations in N is for Never Forget: POW-MIA A to Z, a middle-grade nonfiction picture book honoring the legacies of prisoners of war and those missing in action. Paul is president of the Jefferson Barracks POW-MIA Museum. His dad was a WWII POW.
Elva Resa Publishing, a military spouse-owned company, is the leading US publisher of resources for and about military families. Elva Resa’s mission is to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Kathleen M. Rodgers is a former frequent contributor to Family Circle Magazine and Military Times. The author of three novels, she is working on her fourth novel, which deals in part with the family of a pilot missing in action in Vietnam.
Members of Colleyville Book Club welcomed me for a lively discussion about my latest novel, Seven Wings to Glory. We talked about the characters and how they each dealt with issues of war, racism, and family secrets in the town of Portion, Texas, a fictional suburb located near Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
After I read a brief excerpt from chapter two (the inciting incident), we each opened up and shared our own experiences dealing with discrimination and intolerance. A big thanks to hostesses Tari Sanchez Bauer and her daughter, Mandie Bauer, for selecting my novel for their October pick. The club will donate their copies to the library as a “book club kit.”
Thanks to all of you who’ve read my books and offered your support. Thanks to Camel Press for believing in my work.
Military Writers Society of America held its 2017 conference at the historic Menger Hotel in downtown San Antonio, TX. The hotel is located across the street from the Alamo and a couple of blocks from the Riverwalk. The weekend was packed with informative workshops led by speakers and panelists on a variety of topics pertaining to writing, editing, publishing, networking, and marketing.
On Friday, I participated on a panel titled “I’ve Written My Book, Now What?” During my ten minutes at the podium, I discussed the pros and cons of working with literary agents and why each writer must find a path to publication that fits his or her needs.
Don Helin served as the moderator. Dennis Koller and John Trudel each discussed their author experiences in an industry that is constantly in a flux. Members in the audience asked lots of good questions afterwards.
MWSA Vice President Bob Doerr organized this year’s conference. Bob did an outstanding job selecting the location and hotel.
MWSA Book Awards Director John Cathcart and his team of reviewers/judges selected the top books that received Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals. To see the complete list of winners, visit the MWSA website.
If you’d like to learn more about Military Writers Society of America, please visit our website. I’ve made lifelong friends since I joined MWSA in 2008. Even my husband, Tom, enjoys coming to the conferences.
PS: Thanks to Jeanette Vaughan and Sandra Linhart for taking the photos
“Why worry about each passing decade? Let’s celebrate our voices of experience!” ~ Robin Boyd, host ofPassing 50
Join Robin and me for a lively discussion about the writing process and my latest novel, Seven Wings to Glory, on her new radio talk show, Passing 50. It’s always an honor when the person conducting the interview has read your work. To listen to the interview, click on the show’s homepage and our interview appears to the right under the title Seven Wings to Glory.
Early in the writing of my third novel,Seven Wings to Glory, I reached out to watercolorist, Jenny Zovein, whose work I’d admired on Facebook. Her whimsical style appealed to me and I wondered if she could paint a few scenes to inspire me as I worked to bring the story to life. I was on a tight deadline. She agreed and we arranged a time to discuss the project by telephone. Each time she sent me a completed painting, I propped it up in front of my computer and felt the spirits of my characters come to life.
Thorndike Press, the leading large print publisher in the United States, will release Seven Wings to Gloryin hardcover, large print library binding on March 21, 2018. The prequel, Johnnie Come Lately, releases on February 21, 2018. Both books come under the publisher’s “clean read” category. Both hardcover copies are available at most online booksellers.
My third novel, Seven Wings to Glory, releases today from Camel Press. The novel is a sequel to Johnnie Come Lately but can be read as a standalone story. The book is available atAmazon, B&Nand most online booksellers.
Endorsements and additional buying information can be found on my publisher’s website.
I’m excited to announce the April 1, 2017 release of my third novel, Seven Wings to Glory, published by Camel Press. Sometimes small towns harbor big secrets. And sometimes things just can’t be explained. Early praises are coming in from top authors around the country. To read their endorsements, please visit my website.
The print edition will be available on Amazon, B&N, and other online retailers April 1. The Kindle and Nook editions are out now.
You can ask your local bookseller or library to order the book. If you’re a member of a book club, I hope you’ll consider choosing Seven Wings to Glory for a future discussion.
The official book launch will be held at B&N, Soutlake, TX, Saturday, April 8 from 2-4 pm CDT.
All the best,
Johnnie Kitchen is finally living her dream, attending college and writing a column for the local paper. She adores her husband Dale and chocolate Labrador Brother Dog, and they reside in a comfortable home in the small town of Portion in North Texas. Their three children are thriving and nearly grown.
But Johnnie is rattled when her youngest boy Cade goes to fight in Afghanistan. The less frequent his emails, the more she frets for his safety. On the home front, Johnnie learns that Portion is not the forward-thinking town she believed. A boy Cade’s age, inflamed by a liberal bumper sticker and the sight of Johnnie’s black friend Whit, attacks them with the N-word and a beer bottle. After Johnnie writes about the incident in her column, a man named Roosevelt reaches out with shameful stories from Portion’s untold history. More tears and triumphs will follow, as Johnnie’s eyes are opened to man’s capacity for hate and the power of love and forgiveness.
Eastern New Mexico University’s campus newspaper, Greyhound Gazette, is the first news outlet to run a story about my third novel, Seven Wings to Glory. The article is written by Wendel Sloan, Director of Media Relations for ENMU. I’m thrilled as this was the college I attended right out of high school.
The little book that grew wings and learned to fly continues to ride the thermals. Many thanks to Readers’ Favorite reviewer Michelle Stanley for thinking my novel worthy enough for a 5-star rating in 2015.
First edition released from Leatherneck Publishing in October 2008. Thanks to the late Neil Levin for believing in me and this book which won a Silver Medal from Military Writers Society of America in 2009. Thank you to MWSA Founder Bill McDonald for the stellar review. In early 2010, the book was featured in USA Today, The Associated Press, Military Times, and many other publications.
E-Book released from Navigator Books in 2011 with a new cover featuring a missing man formation of A-10 fighter jets affectionately known as Warthogs. Thanks to Maria Edwards and Jeff Edwards for giving the book new life.
Second edition (print and e-book) released from Deer Hawk Publications in 2014. Thanks to Aurelia Sands at Deer Hawk for giving my book a new home.
A huge round of applause to all of my readers over the years who were kind enough to invite my characters into their busy lives and then went above and beyond by posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and spreading the word to friends and family.
This is a Blue Star Service pin. I wore it everyday my youngest son was deployed to a war zone halfway around the world. I proudly display this same symbol on the back of my vehicle. After all these long years of our nation fighting the war on terrorism, it’s sad to know that many Americans do not know the significance of this symbol and what it stands for.
We are pleased to announce that Johnnie Come Lately wins another book award, this one for Women’s Fiction from Texas Association of Authors 2016 Best Book Awards. To date, the novel has garnered four awards: three for content and one for cover art. The other awards are: Gold Medal for Literary Fiction from Military Writers Society of America 2015 Book Awards, Bronze Medalfor Women’s Fiction from Readers’ Favorite 2015 International Book Awards, and 2015 Best Covers Contest from Southern Writers Magazine. To see the complete list of winners click hereor watch a brief video. Buy Johnnie Come Lately at Amazon or B & N.
From reading passages of my latest novel, Johnnie Come Lately, on “The Author’s Corner” on Public Radio, to seeing my work on display in a museum on Long Island, New York, 2015 proved good to me as a writer. Thanks to each one of you who invested your time and emotion in my writing. I appreciate all the reviews, interviews, blog posts, word of mouth recommendations, book club selections, and sharing your copies of my books with your family and friends. I’m working away on my third novel, Seven Wings to Glory, due at my publisher by July 1, 2016.
CNN reporter Ashley Fantz interviewed me about US troops staying on in Afghanistan past 2016. I’m no expert on the military…just a military mama who cares. Click here and scroll past the video to read the entire story.